T he wide use of helicopters by the U.S. military in the Korean War sparked a strong interest in its potential for commercial transportation. As early as 1947 helicopters were in use by the U.S. Postal service transporting airmail from downtown post offices in Los Angeles and Chicago to outlying communities. Fixed wing aircraft need sizeable runways, and so their airports are always located some distance from city centers. Because a helicopter is capable of landing on a space as small as the roof of a skyscraper, there was serious talk of transport helicopters making trips between airports and city centers, or for other short-haul operations as early as 1952.

“Transport helicopter” was defined in 1952 by David Postle of Mowhawk Airlines as being able to carry at least 25 passengers, a crew of 3, and as having at least two engines (not an inexpensive machine by today’s standards). Postle estimated at the time that it would be available for scheduled operation by 1955 and could be operated for 3˘ to 6˘ per revenue passenger mile a figure which compared favorably to scheduled fixed-wing operations which cost around 6.5˘ per mile at the time.

GO TO GALLERY